Megamea, a $5,000 weanling purchase from Swettenham Stud’s 2017 Great Southern Sale draft, will now aim for some black type after an emotional victory for the mare’s former trainer Udyta Clarke at Flemington on Saturday.
Clarke handed over the training of the daughter of Eden Park stallion Master Design which produced his second city winner in seven days after Designer Chef won at Caulfield last week.
After being lucky to survive a stroke in 2020 when she was found unconscious in a paddock on her property, Clarke faced a long battle from bleeding on the brain and transferred the training of the horse which she races in partnership with Don Allan to fellow Cranbourne trainer Luke Oliver.
Already with two wins under Clarke’s care, Megamea has raced seven times for Oliver for three city victories.
Clarke is no stranger to winning races at Flemington. She trained and part-owned Rich Charm (Danerich x Charmly) which won the Group 2 Linlithgow Stakes (1200m) at Flemington during the 2017 Melbourne Carnival.
Rich Charm won nine races, including three at Flemington, and banked $922,270.
Clarke, who is unsure whether she’ll renew her trainer’s licence, is full of praise for Oliver’s training performance with the mare which is in career-best form.
“She was very impressive,” Clarke said.
“She has gone to the paddock now.”
Clarke picked out the filly in the sale catalogue and was even more impressed with the inspection at the sales.
But she wasn’t expecting to pick up the filly for $5000.
“I never thought we’d get her for that price,” she said.
“And now she has been so good with the new trainer and he looks after her really, really well.
“It’s been a big effort for him to have her in the stable.”
Clarke said getting some black type for the mare would make her an even more attractive breeding prospect.
“At the moment we’ll keep on racing her for a while,” she said.
“She is too good for the breeding barn at the moment.”
And for Oliver it was a big thrill to win at Flemington but said it was even more special to get the win for Clarke.
He said there’s no reason why the rising six-year-old mare can’t win a few more races.
“We are going to give her a little break and then bring her back but she is still improving,” Oliver said.
“There’s no reason why she can’t keep on winning.
“She is up to a quarter of a million and it looks like there is still plenty more to come and it was probably the best run of her career on Saturday.
“Sometimes those mares take a bit of time but when they find form, they tend to hold it and keep improving.”
Oliver said they are likely to target a Listed mare’s race on Melbourne Cup Day and would love to get her to a race like that.
He said they’d like to give her every chance to get some black type.
“And because she is a Victorian bred horse there are a lot of those VOBIS races and she is paid up for VOBIS Gold as well and there are races for her next autumn as well for just VOBIS horses and you’d think she’d be pretty competitive in those sorts of races,” Oliver said.
“The plan for the spring would be to try to get some black type but there are plenty of other races as well that would be suitable for her as well.
“And from the new season, there is the VOBIS Gold bonus where you can win a bonus towards a service fee.”
Oliver said Swettenham Stud’s Adam Sangster, who bred Megamea, is in constant contact with Clarke every time the mare races.
He said he was sure when the time was right that Clarke would eventually like to send the mare back to Swettenham Stud to a stallion like Puissance De Lune.
Oliver said there was at least another season of racing left in the mare which had been so well looked after and was so sound when she joined his stable.
“She just had a good grounding of going to country meetings and learning her craft and all that sort of stuff,” he said.
“So she has got plenty of racing left in her and I hope she has got lots more wins in store.
“When I first got her, I felt a bit of pressure only because I wanted the best for Mrs Clarke and to win at Flemington with that horse was special as everyone remembers when Rich Charm won the Linlithgow and how emotional she was.
“And with everything she has been through with her illness, to win a race for her at Flemington was a real highlight.”
Swettenham Stud originally stood the Group 1 winning Master of Design (Redoute’s Choice x Urge To Merge) but when the stallion wasn’t commercially viable he was leased to Greta West Stud for several years before more recently being sold to airline pilot Gary Liu who stood the stallion at his Eden Park Stud.
Swettenham’s Sam Matthews said Sangster loved the family of Megamea’s dam, Haumea (Encosta De Lago x Quiz Queen).
“And we raced her half-sister by Trust In A Gust in Queensland,” he said.
“She has got a great pedigree and with what happened to Udyta, it was great that Luke Oliver was able to do his thing and take over.
“And the mare has been a star and is probably in the twilight of her racing career but she just keeps putting in.”
Swettenham sold Haumea, in foal to Toronado, to New Zealand interests in 2018.
Matthews said Sangster had bred five foals out of the mare but hadn’t managed to get any black type.
Haumea raced 14 times for six seconds and three-thirds. She finished fourth, beaten less than a length in the Listed 2010 Tasmanian Oaks (2100m).